Tuesday 4th October 2022.

October 4, 2022

A group of 686 citizens demanded this Monday, October 3, the President of the Republic, Laurentino Cortizo, to veto Bill 890, which will allow mayors, corregimiento representatives, and their deputies to receive a salary higher than that corresponding to the position for which they were were elected. In a note received by the Ministry of the Presidency, signed, among others, by Freddy Pittí, it is stated that the project violates articles 19 and 302 of the Constitution, which indicate that there will be no jurisdictions and privileges and that public servants are obliged to personally perform the functions for which they were assigned. Citizen signatures were collected through the platform, between September 30 and October 2. Bill 890, approved last Thursday, September 29, in the third debate by the National Assembly, allows, for example, public servants who are elected as mayors and representatives to choose which of the two salaries they want to receive: if the one that corresponds to them in the local government or the one they received at the time of being elected. This will allow, for example, that a doctor who works in a public sector center can – if he so wishes – continue to receive that salary and not the one that corresponds to his municipality or community board. Or that Etelvina de Bonagas continues to earn $14,000 a month as rector of the Autonomous University of Chiriquí (Unachi), even though in May 2024 she is elected to a position in local governments. According to the Assembly, project 890 “responds to an issue of better salary, without entering into [a] salary conflict.”

The Tocumen International Airport, SA filed a lawsuit claiming the construction company Odebrecht the payment of at least $20.7 million, “ for the damages and losses caused by the non-delivery of Terminal 2 within the term or in the terms and conditions contractual”. The information was communicated this Monday, by Tocumen. In a press release it is said that since June 22, Terminal 2 has been used for passenger processing, although the works were not received as dictated by the contract with Odebrecht. For this reason, the airport has had to incur expenses. The lawsuit also considers damages for lost profits caused to Tocumen, SA, for the income not received from the rental of commercial premises due to Odebrecht’s failure to deliver the work within the agreed term and conditions. Tocumen’s claim is presented in full litigation with Odebrecht (now called CNO) for the annulment of the construction contract for the new terminal and the intention to disqualify the company from contracting with the Panamanian State. The process is settled before the Public Procurement Administration Court , where there is currently an appeal filed by Odebrecht. Before, the construction company tried to get the court to declare itself incompetent to deal with this matter, since Odebrecht wanted it to be settled in an arbitration sphere. According to CNO, Tocumen did not have the power to annul the contract, since any disagreement had to be resolved at the Conciliation and Arbitration Center of the Chamber of Commerce, Industries and Agriculture. The airport administration canceled the contract on September 28, 2021, after multiple addenda to grant more time (and money) to Odebrecht. The work ultimately cost $917 million.

The opposition party Cambio Democrático (CD) already has a candidate in the single-member circuit 13-2 of Capira , West Panama. This is the community leader Eduardo Vásquez , who received the endorsement of the group’s board of directors last Sunday, October 2. That circuit is the political fiefdom of the current 8-2 deputy (which in 2024 will be 13-2), Yanibel Ábrego . Ábrego was apparently unaware of that decision, although she is supposedly endorsed by the CD board of directors, of which she is the general secretary. The decision was communicated by Rómulo Roux , current president of CD and who has an internal dispute with Ábrego for control of the party. “With Eduardo Vásquez as the next deputy of the CD in Capira, the ‘what’s for me’ that has robbed even hope from this noble district that has so much potential will end,” Roux assured on his Twitter account, Ábrego reacted, also via Twitter, and said that Vásquez’s candidacy is “fingered.”

Alleging lack of funds, the Realizing Goals (RM) party, led by former president Ricardo Martinelli (2009-2014) announced to the Electoral Tribunal (TE) that the event to choose the directors of the district councils, which had been scheduled for the next October 16 were suspended. The reason, according to a resolution dated September 3 issued by the party and which was published in Electoral Bulletin 5174-B last Thursday, September 22, is that the political group ran out of funds for this activity. The resolution reads the following: “ upon receiving from the Electoral Tribunal, at our request, the budget for the services required for the organization and conduct of these elections, we are aware that the costs are in line with reality, but the truth is that we do not have those economic resources to defray these costs ”. He adds that ” we are a new party without public financing, which places us in a state of inequality and lack of equity by not having the resources that the big parties and those that receive economic subsidies from the State do have.” In the document signed by the members of the National Commission of Internal Elections, among them Alma Cortés (president), Alejandro Pérez (vice president) and Tomás Martinelli (secretary), among others, it is also indicated that the election of the boards of directors of townships , will remain “ tentatively for the dates of the primaries to elect the presidential candidate and other positions of popular election, agreed for the first week of the months of June and July 2023″ . This request to suspend the October 16 event was reiterated to the TE, Tomás Martinelli, in a note dated September 21, one day before the electoral corporation published the suspension in the bulletin. Tomás Martinelli, secretary of the National Commission for Internal Elections of RM, reported that the elections were suspended for “causes beyond his control.” There was an appeal for reconsideration against the decision to suspend the event, but TE sources said that no one challenged the Commission’s decision. Through Resolution 4 of March 24, 2021, the TE recognized the legal existence of the RM party. From then on, this political party has held at least two internal elections: on April 24, 2022 to elect the secretaries of Youth and Women and on July 24 (an extraordinary congress) to reform the statute and fill vacancies of the board of directors. Among the changes endorsed in the statutes of the congress of July 24 is that the board of directors will be able to “nominate candidates for popular election positions who are not registered in the party, including firm candidates by free application.” The two aforementioned elections were marked by the fact that Martinelli, investigated for corruption cases, availed himself of the electoral criminal jurisdiction. In fact, as a result of the fact that he invoked the jurisdiction and that two of the three magistrates of the TE endorsed Martinelli’s claims, the case reached the Supreme Court of Justice, which on September 8 determined in a ruling that the TE exceeded its jurisdiction and that the jurisdiction cannot be an obstacle to a criminal proceeding.

The National Police asked to reject a bill that will allow personnel with tattoos to enter their ranks. The organic law of the Police prohibits the entry of people with tattoos or lobe holes. For this reason, on August 18, a bill was presented in the National Assembly (AN) to modify the norm and eliminate this prohibition, except in those cases in which the tattoo “expresses values ​​contrary to the ethical principles of the institution. or related to organized crime groups.” But the National Police asked the AN not to approve this bill. “We are guarantors of the Constitution and the law. We are here to enforce it. But the institutional position is not to allow the possession of tattoos. We continue and recommend that our proposal be approved” of rejection, said commissioner Rolando Aponte, who attended a meeting of the AN Government, Justice and Constitutional Affairs Commission on Monday, October 3, to analyze the modification proposal.

The Panama Canal expects the passage of 200 ships loaded with passengers in the 2022-2023 season, which began this October and ends next May. An interesting fact in the itinerary of the waterway is that of the 200 cruise ships that will pass through the locks, 44 transits will correspond to ships of neopanamax dimensions. The cruise season that is just beginning, according to Albano Aguilar, specialist in International Trade of the Vice Presidency of Corporate Affairs, will become “a record year in transits of neopanamax ships, which will allow more tourists to carry out activities in the country” . According to the annual report of the Panama Canal, in fiscal year 2019, 224 ships with passengers transited, to later go to 242 in the 2020 period, and drop to 17 cruise ships in 2021, as a result of the pandemic, the paralysis of tourism and cruise travel. The fiscal year of the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) begins every October 1 and ends on September 30 of the following year. As in previous years, for this season the main shipping lines such as Holland America , Princess Cruises , Norwegian Cruise Line , Carnival Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean Cruises maintain their proposal to offer itineraries to carry out complete and partial transits through the Panama Canal. The season kicked off with the passage of the Carnival Spirit cruise ship, from the Carnival Cruise Lines shipping company , which completed a 16-day journey from Seattle, Washington to New Orleans, Louisiana. During this period, 12 cruise ships will transit the Panama Canal for the first time: Fridtjof of Nansen, Seabourn Venture, World Navigator, Celebrity Edge, Sea Cloud Spirit, World Voyager, Evrima, Le Bellot, Spirit of Adventure. Also, from the Viking company: the Viking Neptune, Viking Octantis, and Viking Polaris ships .

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